Girls Talk Back was created by the partnership of the American Association of University Women – Honolulu Branch, Women’s Fund of Hawai’i (WFH), and Ceeds of Peace.
Our partnership launched this effort after identifying gaps in our education system’s ability to develop underrepresented leaders, specifically women of color and even more specifically Pacific Islander and Native Hawaiian women.
According to WFH’s 2017 report, The Status of Women in Hawai’i, 38% of Pacific Islander women and 14% of Native Hawaiian women live in poverty—the highest among all ethnic groups here. These data justify the urgency to focus more efforts on raising women leaders in our communities to help break cycles of poverty, inequality, and injustice. In our second year of Girls Talk Back, we served 23 young women and two student mentors, ranging from ages 15-18. These young women joined us from three islands and 15 different schools. Due to COVID-19, this year’s program was 100% virtual, split into two separate 4 week cohorts.
“I loved the sense of community that we built up over the duration of the program; it was nice to feel like I belonged somewhere, especially in a time where it feels like we are more alone and isolated as ever. I also think that the program made me reflect a lot about who I am, where I come from, and who I want to be in the future.” – Student
“Girls Talk Back is an opportunity to be inspired by the girls’ desires to do something positive in their communities, around issues they care deeply about. My simple role as a mentor was to pose questions that might open up new angles of approach and possibly ease the girls’ path to action. Along the way, I reflected on my own efforts to make our community a better place. I’m beginning to wonder if that’s the head-fake the program intends: inspire mentors to follow the lead of their mentees. I’m so grateful to be a small part of Girls Talk Back.” – Student